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Immigration Law

Unpacking the Legacy of Judge Dana Leigh Marks

Kathleen Guthrie Woods, San Francisco Attorney Magazine, Fall 2022

"By the time she retired from San Francisco’s Immigration Court on December 31, 2021, Judge Dana Leigh Marks* had built an inspiring reputation as a leader, mentor, and advocate. She is known for her fierce advocacy for the court. She is known for her compassion and fairmindedness. She is known for her intelligence and wit, having coined oft-repeated, appropriate zingers that help people better understand the challenges of immigration court, including “Immigration judges do death penalty cases in a traffic court setting” and “Immigration is more complicated than tax law. How do I know this? Because there is no TurboTax for immigration law.” Talking with her former colleagues—many of whom are now also her friends—is an uplifting experience. They speak of a woman who broke through barriers, applied the law fairly and compassionately, fought hard fights, and inspired others to join her. “She’s the GOAT of immigration judges!” declares Francisco Ugarte, Manager of the Immigration Defense Unit of San Francisco’s Public Defender’s Office. Who is Judge Marks, and how did she positively influence and impact so many lives? ... "  *Today Judge Marks is known as “NanaDana,” a title that celebrates her role as caretaker for her granddaughter and helps people correctly pronounce her name (“dan-uh,” not “day-nuh”).